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Allan Corfield Architects. Meet the team – Steff
Our ‘meet the team’ series focuses on our company and the people who make it great! We know that entrusting someone with the task of building your dream home is a very difficult decision to make. Therefore, we believe that you should get to know each of us better and trust that our great service is not only due to our qualifications and experience – but is also our real passion. Today we are presenting an interview with Steff who joined our team in April.
Steff joined our team in April this year as a Technologist & Passive House Designer and very quickly found a common ground with the rest of the team. From day one, he started contributing his outstanding knowledge on low-energy homes and enabled us to offer full Passive House Design and Certification in our services.
Steff was introduced to Passivhaus standard during his contract work in Germany which shaped his career and expertise as one of the most promising eco-homes designers in the UK. Thanks to him, ACA is now even more qualified to undertake the most ambitious eco home projects and ready to exceed our clients’ dream home vision more than ever before. We would like you to get to know Steff better, so we are happy to present you this interview.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ARCHITECT?
I studied architectural technology at RGU in Aberdeen. Architectural technology is similar to architecture but also combines an emphasis on building physics and the nature of how buildings work and operate.
I initially started studying surveying at Aberdeen University but quickly realised that I needed a subject that included design and creativity. Fortunately, I was able to transfer into a second-year design course at RGU without losing a year.
I’ve always had a strong drive to be creative. Over the years this has taken many forms such as art, music and cooking. Architecture felt like a natural progression of this drive and I’m very passionate about domestic architecture as my Dad is a joiner, so I grew up on and around building projects.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A PASSIVE HOUSE SPECIALIST? WHY FOCUS ON ECO HOMES?
I was always interested in energy efficiency and sustainable design. As an architectural technologist, we focus on the technology that helps a building perform. These technologies often include renewables such as solar PV, solar thermal, heat pumps, wind and hydro. I had inevitably stumbled across the Passivhaus standard whilst researching these other topics although at the time (circa 2003) the Passivhaus standard was not widely publicised in the UK.
I really got into the Passive House field as a result of circumstances out with my control. It was a case of the right place at the right time. However, once I got the opportunity to learn about Passive House and become trained I grabbed it with both hands and I’ve been working in this area of architecture ever since.
COULD YOU GIVE US A QUICK SUMMARY OF YOUR CAREER AFTER YOU GRADUATED UNTIL YOU JOINED ACA ?
After graduating I took a job in an architecture practice in Edinburgh. Although I was happy during my time there it was ultimately to be short lived, as the credit crunch of 2008 would mean that the main work undertaken by this practice would ultimately be reduced to almost zero. After leaving this practice it was very difficult to find work within architecture for a while.
Interested to keep learning within the construction industry I settled for a labouring job with a large commercial flooring company. Although this wasn’t the dream start to my career it did allow me to see construction from a different angle.
After continuing this job for a few months, I was contacted by a friend who had an opportunity to work for a company in Germany but he wasn’t able to take it due to family commitments. He contacted the company and very generously suggested that they get in touch with me. This company turned out to be Herz & Lang a Passivhaus design and consultancy practice in Southwest Germany. The opportunity was a traineeship with Herz & Lang to become a certified Passivhaus designer and help the company with the vast array of projects they undertake. After a number of discussions, I was offered the traineeship.
I worked for Herz & Lang for roughly four months moving to Germany in September 2009 and returning to Scotland just before Christmas the same year. During my time, there I became a certified Passivhaus designer and also had the opportunity to work on a large variety of buildings from small scale domestic, non-domestic and even the largest Passivhaus project in the world at the time, the Lodenareal project.
After returning to Scotland I took a job with the Scottish Passive House Centre where I worked for just over two years as a Passive House designer. This was a great experience as I was able to work on a variety of project as well as have the opportunity to present training courses and public speaking.
In 2012 I made the decision to leave the SPHC and set up a business of my own. I ran my own business for five years before joining ACA. This was a very difficult but very rewarding experience. I was involved with a large number of unique projects including both domestic and non-domestic buildings. I was able to overcome a number of challenges and I learned a number of new skills which I now hope to bring to ACA.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK AT ACA?
ACA are known for high quality domestic and self build projects. These are my main areas of interest within architecture. Also I hope that due to the nature of this work there will be a number of great opportunities to use the skills I have collected over the past few years as a Passive House designer.
WHAT IN YOUR OPINION IS THE STRONGEST POINT OF ACA AS AN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE?
From what I’ve experienced so far the strongest point of ACA as and architectural practice is the team. We have a strong and diverse group of people hear with experience that spans across many architectural disciplines. This is a great resource in the office as its much faster to discuss and resolve issues within the office if someone has experience. Rather than trying to make sense of everything on your own which was my previous experience. Also this makes for a very enjoyable work environment.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
My wife and myself just recently had our first child, a wee boy. So most of my spare time is dedicated to family at the moment, which is challenging but great fun at the same time.
Beyond this I like to be creative and work with my hands. I’ve turned my garage into a workshop so that I can sneak away for a few hours at the weekend and release some tension. I like to mostly do woodworking and joinery although I am interested to expand this overtime.
We moved about two years ago although the house is a fixer upper so any spare time that is not spent with family is spent doing DIY. I’m mostly working on projects in the garden such as planters, a potting bench and patio furniture from pallets. Although I’ve also made a few interior projects for our office/spare room such as a floating desk, new sliding wardrobe doors and modified an Ikea bookshelf into a TV stand/bookshelf. I’ve also had a go at my own home brew over the last couple of years. I’ve only been making elderflower champagne at the moment but might graduate to less seasonal and more ambitious brews throughout the rest of this year. These things tend to take up most of my spare time and keep me out of trouble.
Here are some more ‘various’ projects Steff has been involved in:
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